Acts 1:18-20 – What happens when we misinterpret Scripture?

(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language, Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.’” (Acts 1:18-20)

Many years ago I felt called to help with the youth program at church. The minister of the church told me he didn’t feel I was called to do that and encouraged me to volunteer somewhere else in the church. Apparently, the youth program had enough volunteers. Eventually, we changed churches, and I was able to help with small groups with middle school children.

It’s important to follow the desire God puts in our hearts. When pastors or other volunteers place burdens on us to volunteer in a certain area, there’s a danger we won’t accomplish God’s will for our lives. Peter’s misinterpretation of Scripture did exactly that.  He encouraged the believers to vote in a new apostle. Since God already had someone in mind, the man the early believers voted in took on a role that God didn’t choose for him. Although it seemed he was doing God’s work, he wasn’t. After the apostles voted for Mathias to be an apostle, he was never heard of in the Scriptures or any other writings again.

It’s a tragedy when even one doesn’t follow the will of God, but it is a bigger tragedy when misinterpretation of the Scripture leads people away from God. That is the opposite of making disciples of all nations. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8 and 4:16) If this is true, He can’t be a God of wrath. Wrath comes from the Greek word, Orge. Our English word orgasm comes from the same word. Yes, it can mean wrath, but it can also mean any intense emotion such as God reaching out in love to protect us or let us learn a lesson. (Taken from an interview with Steve McVey, D.min., Luther Rice Seminary and founder of GraceWalk Ministries.) When churches preach the wrath of God as God’s anger sending non-believers to hell, people turn from God, and I believe that teaching simply isn’t true.

Father God, You are the God of love and Jesus is the savior whom everyone needs. Give me the power, gifts, and wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the opportunity to guide people from legalism into the freedom of Your love and Your refuge of peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Acts 1:18-20 – What happens when we misinterpret Scripture?

2 thoughts on “Acts 1:18-20 – What happens when we misinterpret Scripture?

  1. God is a kind and loving God. I do not believe in the wrath of God. I think that it frightens people and turns them away from God, the Bible and church. We all make mistakes and we all sin. In my mind, there is no way that God would send me to Hell because I did something wrong, even if it was intentional. We are his children and He loves us. No one wants a leader that frightens and scares us into submission. I feel that God would never want a relationship based on fear , just as any good parent would not want that type of relationship with their child. The fear and wrath of God is a popular here and I can never believe that way.

    1. We are seeing that Peter misinterpreted scripture, and I think those who interpreted the Bible into English misinterpreted it too. The words for wrath and fear should have been intense love and respect. I prayed for you this morning. Blessings, Jody

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